Change in Leadership at Laurelhurst Elementary School Needed
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We believe a change is needed in the leadership of Seattle’s Laurelhurst Elementary School to return it to its historically high levels of performance. During Dr. Talbot’s tenure as Principal of our school, the academic performance of our students and environment that fosters learning and growth has significantly declined. Important indicators include, but are not limited to:
- Failure to maintain the historically high academic performance of the school. From the District’s School Report Card, academic performance scores have fallen significantly from at or above the 90th percentile, with several scores falling into the 50th percentile.
- Failure to address students' and families' concerns regarding safety in the school. In many cases, concerns about student safety have escalated to the point where families have simply left the school. ***
- Failure to retain the highest preforming teachers and staff. The most prominent example is the loss of Ms. Halperin, recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in 2016. Other notable departures include various longstanding, high performing teachers and staff. **
- Undermining the collaborative relationship that has historically existed with the parents and community as evidenced by the challenges filling PTA positions and the decline in parent & community involvement, engagement, and volunteering at school. ***
- The large number of families choosing not to return their kids to Laurelhurst to complete their elementary school education and moving them to other SPS or private elementary schools. *
The alarming declines in academic performance and continuing degradation of the school climate are directly attributable to the leadership failure of Dr. Sarah Talbot as the principal of our school. A change in school leadership is clearly needed and we respectfully request that the District, its Administration, and its School Board take steps to urgently address these ongoing performance failures.
*District records show that the average student attrition rate at Laurelhurst increased from 17 students per year before the start of Sarah Talbot’s tenure to 40 students per year through 2016, and the District Staff anticipates the 2016-17 year to conclude with an even higher rate.
**District records also show that the average Laurelhurst teacher/staff attrition rate increased from a rate of one per year prior to Sarah Talbot’s tenure to six per year through 2016.
***The District’s Spring Climate Survey indicates that the percentage of Laurelhurst students agreeing with the statement “I feel safe at my school” fell from 92% to a District-wide low of 80% since Sarah Talbot joined the school in 2014. Laurelhurst’s student environment and professional environment (for teachers & staff) rankings among NE Seattle schools each fell from 4th to last place under Sarah Talbot’s leadership. Several other climate metrics now place Laurelhurst Elementary among the lowest of all District elementary schools.
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